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Eh…worship. What about it?

October 12, 2010 Leave a comment

What is it exactly? Everyone has their own opinions particularly built upon personal experiences, traditional values or emotional intimacy. One person, in particular, find worship to be a two hour version of “Doxology” along with three alter-calls to make sure “we got all of ’em” (true story). However, I believe that worship is a beast that is hard to tame, or even try to define it; but, worship is something that I have been questioning lately.

Personally, I been a worship leader longer than…well, I ‘ve probably been a Christian, so I feel as though I have a pretty hefty foot in the door when it comes to the conversation of, “What is worship?” I been a part of many experiences in worship such as:

1. Two high school students leading worship for a youth group while only having one acoustic guitar between the two of them, and each one only knowing 2 songs. Read more…

Categories: Faith, Religion, Worship

There He Goes – A Hero!

October 4, 2010 Leave a comment

Just the other day, in the midst of my Christian music phase, I heard a song that I can’t seem to shake. Here, let me show you:


Hero by Abandon

He walked the dirty streets. Famous for nothing.
He said “come follow me” and they came.
A face like all the rest.
But something was different.
The Son of God would lead the way.
And soon they all would say. Read more…

Categories: Faith, Religion, Worship

New Seasons

October 3, 2010 Leave a comment

I am ready for change.

This week marks the beginning of a change of seasons in more ways than one.  The weather is changing and Fall is in the air.  I am starting a new job and a new chapter in my time with Cohen.  Curtis and I have made some personal changes that we hope are going to reap fruitful results.  Things are changing!  Hopefully for the better.

We are coming out of a season that has been hard for our family.  But today I was reminded that even when we have been struck down, it is the Lord who raises us up and gives us new seasons of hope and refreshing.

Hosea 6 says:

“Come, let us return to the LORD; for he has torn us, that he may heal us;
he has struck us down, and he will bind us up.
After two days he will revive us; on the third day he will raise us up, that we may live before him.
Let us know; let us press on to know the LORD; his going out is sure as the dawn;
he will come to us as the showers, as the spring rains that water the earth.”

Even when we don’t understand it, He give purpose to our suffering.  He heals where we are torn and he binds up where we are broken.  I want to press on to know that God.  I want to know the God who offers beauty for my ashes in an intimate way because I need that exchange!

The beginning of October always sort of marks the end of a year to me…like time is winding down on this particular calendar year.  This year has been hard.  But for the first time in a long time, I feel hopeful that things are changing for the better, and that I can dance in the showers of the Lord’s coming.

Categories: Faith, Religion, Worship

created? what for?

October 16, 2009 Leave a comment

clutteredeskWhy were we created? If the world is saturated in darkness, or shall we say evil, then why would an all encompassing God bring life into the picture only to experience death? And not just physical death, though painful, yet a death of spirit and soul?

This is a conversation topic between a friend and I for many weeks now as we meet at Starbucks to discuss the existence of God, or the need for something that man created. Truly, our conversation over this matter has really got me to think about the creator’s relationship to his creation.

…for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” (1 Corinthians 6:20)

Both you and I  were created merely for relationship with God. And engraved in us is the detailed description and ability to love. A devout husband loves his wife moreso than his ownself, and despite what conflicts arise in the relationship his love surpasses all understanding and endures all things to sacrifice himself for the betterment of his wife.

And in our current world culture, the devout man could be seen as a radical figure and could be judged wasteful because of his selflessness. A non-devout might say that no human is worth that much sacrifice, that kind of love. And as a result, the non-devout would love himself in the same way that the devout husband loves his wife but the love and sacrifice would be focused on himself and not on another being. This nature of love and sacrifice is ingrained in our very make-up but how we choose to use it is not. This is the predicament of love.

But this mystic code that is written into our behavior and thinking patterns must have come from somewhere and something that is able to fully comprehend the idea, action and consequence of love and sacrifice. This pointing to a creator of love and sacrifice.

The very code that is programmed in people and the people who choose devotion and selflessness can only come from perfection in devotion and selflessness in relationship with the creator, our creator.

So as I sit with my friend, she asked, “Then why if we have that relationship with God are we taught to be servants and slaves? Is our creation only to serve as servants and slaves?” Yet, in love, being a servant and slave to the one who is loved is the only true act of devotion we are able to comprehend and understand.

The devout husband serves his wife because she is the true definition of his love. It is natural to him since he loves her, the devout husband puts himself aside to assure her safety and her growth.

Now, we may interpret ‘slavery’ and ‘servant hood’ as means for an owner to have control and command over a servant or slave. However, Christ’s calling to servant hood and slavery can only be experienced by completely giving one’s self to someone they love so they are not equal any longer, yet the lover puts himself lower and raises the loved one.

If the devout husband is asked to give his life for his wife, there is but only one option because love is self-sacrifice. A devout husband would give his life without a single thought to his own.

So then our relationship with the creator is that, that we would give ourselves to Him out of love. We can only know this because He first did it for us through Jesus Christ. He does not need our guilt or obligation in relationship, but He asks for our sacrifice, our self-sacrifice.

I find pity for those who live in obligation and guilt to God, those who saturate the hallways of religious institutions from week to week. I only find pity because they have choosen for their devotion to be somewhere other than the true relationship with God, yet they feel it necessary to offer their attendance as a guilt offering.

The creation’s body is only given because it willingly gives it. We give it because it is written in our spiritual structure and make-up. Yet we were shown the ultimate self-sacrifice in Jesus Christ and that love is beginning to make more sense to one of His creations, me.

Categories: Faith, Religion

Money in the Mail…

May 14, 2009 1 comment

1127119_15462155This morning when I rose out of bed, I turned on the coffee pot, opened my Bible and began to pray. And after my morning with God, I began to close the Bible and carry on with my day until this caught my eye:

But know this: difficult times will come in the last days. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, without love for what is good, traitors, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to the form of religion but denying its power. Avoid these people!
2 Timothy 3:1-5 (Holman Christian Standard)

Now I know you might start reading the first sentance and think, “Oh no, he is about to begin a rant about the ‘last days’ and the Apocalypse.” But no. We are in the last days because Jesus rose from the dead and we are awaiting His return. But enough of that.

What caught my eye was the line, “…holding to the form of religion but denying its power.” That just brings chills down my back, for two reasons

1. I am a Youth Pastor – therefore, I teach about the power of the Gospel and what affect it should have on our lives and situations.

2. I don’t believe in the power of it.

Now, don’t cut me off as a Satanic, Pagan, follower of the Devil just yet. It has been a struggle of mine to really believe in this mystical power surrounding us that simply causes things to happen outside of our reality. For instance, in High School, one of our Youth Workers at church found out that she had cancer. So, that next Wednesday night we gathered around her to lay hands on her and pray for her. Soon to follow, the cancer was gone. Surely, in my mind, it was the medicine that reduced the cancer.

Another example, my wife loves to check the mail because she believes that money comes in it (crazy, I know). But she believes this because her parents have been blessed in many ways throughout life because of things that would come in the mail.

I, however, think that this idea is simply unrealistic. Yet, sure enough, my wife recieves things in the mail that are highly beneficial to us (strangely enough, they are always made out to her).

So as I teach about this healing power of the gospel, inside I am skeptical about it. But who isn’t? We live in a world surrounded by science and holding to actual facts/truth. We have been raised with the insight to throw out anything that cannot be proven. Yet, Christianity teaches that there is power in the gospel, through things unseen:

I assure you: Anything you ask the Father in My name, He will give you. Until now you have asked for nothing in My name. Ask and you will receive, that your joy may be complete.
John 16:23b-24

So if I believe in the inerrant, truth of God’s word then I have to believe that some things just happen that we can’t explain, nor will we ever be able to explain, and that some how this is the mighty act of God in our world; that we can’t limit the ability of God and bind him by our own, limited mind.

What if we became a world filled with the idea, ‘God can do ANYTHING!’ Many times we say and even think we believe that, but in reality our hearts are hardened only to truly believe that ‘God can do anything, as long as it makes sense to me.’

“…holding to the form of religion, but denying its power.”

Lets pray together that we stop denying the power of the gospel, the power of Christ. I want to have faith that ‘money will come in the mail!’

The Prayer of a Man…

What if you woke up every morning, did your hair, ate breakfast and was off to work/school, and each morning when you stepped out on your front porch, you overlooked this:

PIC_0015

How soon would it be before you were taking advantage of such a beautiful and peaceful atmosphere?

One of the things that I am most fascinated with is history. At one point in time I wanted to be an archeologist in Egypt, uncovering lost cities and tombs, and I dreamed of being the first person to discover what (if anything) is in the Sphinx. Crazy and childish, I know.

But, even upon entering into my current Student Ministry position, I began looking into receiving a Masters in History (which is still very alive in the “Things I want to do” list). I have always been captivated by encountering people throughout history, and the ability to stand in places where history is rich and full which excite me deep in my spirit and soul.

So during this week, I have been filled with probing questions for my grandfather-in-law as I learned about the history of the farm which has been in Cass’s family for 200 years. I have been a nomad most of my life, continuously moving and residing in places for only a season, yet I have always had a strong desire to stay in one place for a very extended amount of time so that stories and legacies are built.

And the Wood family has much of that around here. Around the early 1800s, the first Wood husband inherited close to 300 acres of land in Millry, Alabama. Gorgeous hillside covered in tree, pines, creeks and beauty. There was a house built on the land where a few generations passed through.  This land endured the Civil War while some of the family were involved, fighting for the South.

As time progressed and more stories and legacies were made, the original log house burnt down around the time of the Great Depression. The house, which I am currently sitting in, was then built in place of the log house dating it close to 75-80 years old. Over time, it has been added onto with rooms, closest, porches, etc.

About 40 yards from the back door sits a block of concrete which was part of the original doorsteps of the log house that holds as a reminder of the history this land has endured. To stare upon this lump of rock, it is exciting to think of the wind, rain, weather, feet and years these steps have lived through. And over 200 years later, this lump of rock shouts of stories from things we only read in text books.

As I walk the land of this farm, I can almost imagine the time and culture, without roads and working in the fields with the animals and the land. At times, throughout the week, I find myself staring out the window as the rest of the family is in the other room. I stare across the field, at that picture above, and cannot help for my imagination to saturate my thoughts.

For 200 years, the Wood family has worked, slaved and fought for their children and their grandchildren to have a place to take pride in and call their own. They did it not because it was popular, but because it was what was right. And to watch my grandfather-in-law tell stories never ending of his life and memories of this land, I can only contain myself until I to begin to build my story and my legacy to offer to my children and grandchildren.

My heart is untamed and wants so much to settle, but I plead that God would only allow me to settle for that which is beneficial for my family. To settle for something that would endure 200 years of hard work and commitment. That, I believe, is the pray of a man.

Changing Face

8 hours and 3 states later, I find myself sitting on 68 acres of a postcard-perfect canvas contemplating the stages of life that we all might travel through at point or another (some might get stuck in the earlier of the stages). And I continue to be baffled by the question that rings out in my head continuously, “Why am I here?”

There are points where we find ourselves stretched thin, becoming addicted to the careers in our lives and losing passion for the people that surround and love us. So we purposeful retreat physically and in mind so that we can get back in tune with God and ourselves, and ‘figure this whole thing out.’

Yet, what if there is nothing really to figure out? What if you walk into your retreat begging and pleading for God to get it over with quickly so you can get on with your resting and go back to do it all over again, yet He just throws more at you? Where’s the clarification? Where’s the burning bush? Where’s the talking donkey? Where’s the frustration…oh, wait, there it is!

And it’s not that I am finding frustration in God not answering me, or let alone, fixing me but I am frustrated in the fact that I can’t figure it out. I can’t find the one little niche that will fix all the tireness, all the aggravation… And if I can’t find it then how on earth is God going to find it so he can fix it (problem!).

I forgot how to rest in God, yet God demands it:

For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy. — Exodus 20:11

Come to me all who are weak and weary, and I will give you rest.Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. — Matthew 11:28-29

So how do you do that? What do you do? Find me and change me…

Categories: Faith, Worship